Report by PMOI/MEK
Iran, November 24, 2018 - On Saturday morning, Shush, a city in Iran’s Khuzestan province, saw the 20th consecutive day of strikes and protests by the workers of Haft Tapeh sugarcane factory. The workers began their strike three weeks ago, demanding their salaries, unpaid for months, and the removal of private owners who have pushed Haft Tapeh, the largest sugar mill in Iran, toward bankruptcy.
After Iranian regime security forces arrested several of the protesters, the workers added the release of their colleagues at the top of their list of demands. On Saturday, the protesting workers of Haft Tapeh were shouting, “Imprisoned workers must be freed.”
Under the pressure of mounting protests and tensions, as well as growing national and international support for the workers of Haft Tapeh, the Iranian regime was forced to release most detained workers, but continues to hold Esmail Bakhshi, one of the leading voices of the workers, and Sepideh Ghalyan, a civil rights activist, in custody.
20th day of protests by workers of Haft Tapeh sugar mill
The workers were also chanting, “Even if we die, we will not back down from our salaries.” Many of the workers who are the sole breadwinners for their families have not received their wages for several months.
In their demonstration, the workers were calling on the citizens of Shush to join them in their protests. In previous days, many teachers and students participated in the protests. Merchants closed down their shops and joined the demonstrations. Taxi drivers gave free rides to the workers of Haft Tapeh. Other families prepared food and lunch for the protesters. There’s a growing feeling of solidarity with the workers of Haft Tapeh, who have risen for their most basic rights, and the Iranian regime is becoming increasingly afraid of the situation spinning out of its control.
Iranian children show their support for the workers of Haft Tapeh
Iranian youth demand the release of imprisoned Haft Tapeh workers
The workers are also calling for the ouster of regime-linked private owners of the company who are endangering the future of the factory and its thousands of workers through mismanagement and corrupt policies. “No to Rostami, no to Beigi, nationalize the company,” the workers were shouting, referring to the names of the private owners.
Yesterday, the workers of Haft Tapeh held their protests despite heavy rain. Also, a group of the protesters attended the Friday prayers of Shush to protest for their rights. In their hands, the workers were holding banners demanding the freedom of their jailed colleagues.
Since they began their protests, the workers of Haft Tapeh have earned increasing support from different communities across Iran. Yesterday, groups of people from Tehran, Damavand and Sanandaj declared their solidarity with the workers of Haft Tapeh and voiced their support for their demands.
20th day of protests by workers of Haft Taph sugar mill
Truck drivers from Sirjan, Tehran, Isfahan, Zahedan, Bandar Abbas and Azerbaijan also voiced their support for the cause of the workers of Haft Tapeh. Truck drivers in several Iranian cities are holding a strike of their own against high prices, low incomes and government corruption.
In a heartbreaking news, the 14-year-old son of one of the workers of Haft Tapeh who had set himself on fire under the pressure of the hardships of life, died yesterday.
Milad Al-kasir, the sone of a Haft Tapeh worker, died in hospital after setting himself on fire because of lifes hardships
In a statement published on their social media channel, the workers of Haft Tapeh declared their support for workers of the Ahvaz Steel factory, who have also been protesting for their rights. The two communities have grown very close and supportive of each other in the past days.
“This is a battle between good and evil,” the workers of Haft Tapeh wrote in their statement. “Government officials and authorities are on the side of evil because of their mutual interests.”
The statement also reads: “Dear workers, the victory of good against the evil of tyrants, looters, embezzlers and rich officials is near.”
A group of workers from Saveh also voiced their support for the workers of Haft Tapeh and their demands. “Instead of responding to the demands of the workers, the government has brought up security issues and has hastily arrested several of the protesting workers,” they wrote in a statement.
Voicing their support for the demands of the workers of Haft Tapeh, the workers of Saveh write, “Why must workers, who are the base of the country’s economy and growth, be in jail and be subject to insults?”